Sunday, November 21, 2010

Breathe...

Time has just flown by.  It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is next week.  The first quarter of school is a blur, and my European trip is a distant but happy memory.

I cannot remember the last time I've been able to just breathe and enjoy the way my life is unfolding.  Who am I kidding?  This has never happened, and I don't take this time for granted.

The dues I've paid in teaching for the last five years have paid off and I am in a school where it is truly all about the students.  Teachers and administrators actually respect each other.  They speak kindly to each other.  The only focus is making children successful...I love going to work each morning and thank my lucky stars that I am fortunate enough to be a part of such a community.

Of course I am working harder than I ever have before, of course like most teachers starting the second quarter I am overwhelmed by assessments, the gigantic amount of curriculum that must be taught, and creating interventions for students who are at risk.  All this doesn't matter because I've finally landed at a school where I fit.

Fitting in at a school is a teacher's dream come true.  Do you hear my sigh of relief?  Can you feel my smile?

Five years of dues...Five years of lessons of focusing on OTHERS and not MYSELF...I'm doing it, and am happier at school...go figure.

Thanksgiving is very special time.  I take the THANKS part very seriously.  Contrary to what a some readers of this blog may think, I really do look beyond myself.  I really do learn from mistakes and try to give a bit of ME to others. 

Over the last year I've taken a personal journey in sharing myself with another.  Finding comfort in this has not always been a smooth ride, but the end result of those inevitable bumps in the road is truly the most joyful thing a human can experience.  I'm talking about LOVE...real LOVE that magically keeps coming when I keep my focus on the other person.

Some may think this is easy.  Not for me, folks.  This has been my lesson over the last year and something I keep top of mind each day.  Yes, my friends, life isn't always just about ME.

Breathe, Gracie.  Patience, Gracie...that life that you thought would never be a reality is right there in front of you...real LOVE...real SHARING...FAMILY...those words CAN be part of your vocabulary...just let it GROW like the African Violets blooming around the house.  Ask what HE needs...and just GIVE.

Is it really that simple?  Maybe it is...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Days of School


Ahhh...new school year and a new school!  Cannot even begin to tell you how amazing it is. I wonder if other teachers out there feel this way?

Love that students are actually INCLUDED in the general education classroom...such a different philosophy from last year's school.  Come on...kids learn better when they are with their peers.

Getting my groove on with this new group of students and I think they are going to like my unique approach to teaching.

The best part: Other teachers and administration treat each other with respect.  Something I have not experienced in quite a while...and it is about freaking time!

Just getting started and am REALLY looking forward to what comes next!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Brief Encounters

I was SUPPOSED to be flying home from Madrid today.  Change of plans.  I've been home almost two weeks.

As Eat Pray Love hits theatres I pull the plug on a trip that I've been planning for the last year.

Know what?  I'm ecstatically happy waking up in my own bed.  I go into MY bathroom and do the happy dance because there are no monster sized roaches or other people's toe jam and pubic hair.

I think I've outgrown the youth hostel life style.  I have not gotten old, I've just evolved.

At lunch today I started thinking about all the people I met on the road.  Men and women that in a moment became my best friends, then poof, are gone forever.  Brief encounters, a gift from the universe.

These past five weeks have been filled with some pretty interesting people.

A 76 year-old backpacker stranded at a youth hostel in Nice because he crashed his motorcycle.  I hope he's back safe in Australia. 

Sally, the physical therapist from England just traveling around living a wild crazy moment before going back to her reality where she will worry if she's getting too old to have a child. 

Eliseau, my tapas partner in Madrid.  I think I hurt his feelings, but he should've listened when I told him I have a boyfriend.

Ryse, Sarah, Gregg, and Nate...ultimate backpackers.  All four so smart and so talented.  They will have great stories for their grandchildren.  I admire their life, but couldn't live it.  Sleeping in a tent in a road side campsite...LOL...I couldn't handle a hostel for six weeks.

Eric and Karen, married for over 30 years, telling me that it is completely normal for me to miss my guy here in the states.  Teaching me that true love means sharing a life not living separately.

Enrique, Michel, Amilio, and the others coming to life as they learned English.  A beautiful sight.

Wine touring in Bordeaux with Irina.  She warned me about Ryan Air's baggage weight limit.  I payed out the ass on my way to Majorca. I should've listened to Irina.

Just a few of many, many conversations I had on this journey.  This is what I enjoyed the most; these brief encounters.  Really nice people, plus a couple of ass wipes.

Oscar getting too touchy feely.  Pushing him away wanting to kick his head in.  Get a freakin' life, dude.  Do you think for a second I would even consider you?

The multitudes of SCNF workers in France.  Your helpfulness to an untraveled American marvels the mind.  I hope you come to America, get lost, and try to get directions from someone YOU don't understand.  Maybe you will receive the same unkind smirks you gave to me.

I was very fortunate on this journey.  These were not just chance meetings.  I think people come into our lives for a reason.  Even if it is just a moment. 

These people touched my life in those moments, and hopefully I touched theirs in some way.  Now that I'm home I can reflect on the significance of those meetings.  Believe me, there were times I would've lost my mind completely without the people I met. 

Brief encounters in my heart forever...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Note to Anonymous

I just read a comment on one of my postings from "Anonymous".  It wasn't a very flattering comment.  In fact, I think he or she is pretty pissed off at what I post on MY blog.

The tone of this comment sounded vaguely familiar.  Anonymous, do I know you?  If I do, and you didn't leave a name, shame on you!

A bit of clarification about MY blog.  This isn't a Travel Blog.  I never said it was.  Yes, Anonymous, I travel.  Yes, I do write about it, but the purpose of MY blog isn't a travel medium.

When I started writing this blog I admitted that it was self-indulgent.  Writing is self-indulgent.  It is a selfish endeavor.  I am the first person to say that MY blog is completely selfish, and totally ALL ABOUT ME

Anonymous, I understand and respect that you are entitled to your opinion,  However, I am ALLOWED to write as much "mellow-drama" as I want.  Why does that offend you so much?  Why do you even care?

Anonymous, you accused me of being egotistic...you are right.  Having an ego is healthy.  You also mentioned that I need to let go of someone from my past::  HIM.  Where did that come from? 

I haven't written about HIM in a very long time.  In fact, HE hasn't entered my train of thought for months.  HE is not a MAN who deserves any of my attention.  Anonymous, YOU must miss HIM.  Well, too bad, I'm with a REAL MAN now.  Maybe YOU are the one who needs to move on.

Anonymous, you also commented that I THINK people care about my thoughts, my ramblings, my process of growing up.  That makes me laugh.  I KNOW people don't give a flying rat's ass about my life. 

MY blog isn't for other people...let me be perfectly clear: I WRITE FOR ME!  If other people find interest, can relate, or are slightly entertained, that's great.  If not, and they choose NOT to read what is here, that's great too.

Self-involved?  Self-indulgent?  A bit egotistical?  Most definitely!  You know what, Anonymous?   I'm totally OK with that. 

Finally, Anonymous, I would like to THANK YOU for your comment.  I made you react to the point that you wrote something.  Writers want to get an emotional reaction from a reader.  I've done my job!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Clarity

Playa de San Juan just outside of Alicante, Spain has to be one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen.  I've rented both an umbrella and a lounge chair, a bit of a splurge for my budget, but I don't care.  I need this little indulgence.

I see parents playing with their children in the white sand.  Families enjoying each other's company brings smiles to my heart.  Isn't this what summer is about? 

An elderly couple gets my attention.  He is walking with a cane through the sand.  Keeping his balance is difficult so he leans on his wife's shoulder for support.  She slows her pace so he can navigate the bumpy terrain without falling.  This simple act, a couple working to help each other, brings clarity.  This is what I want.

I come to this beach for three days in a row.   I watch the families, the elderly, the lovers and I see myself in all of them.  Or more specifically I see my present and my future.

Each night in Alicante I visit two places.  The first cafe I go to is Casa de Jamon.  I sit outside and watch the sun go down over the Castille Santa Barbara.  I love watching how the sun shades the side of the mountain.  Mixed with the car lights just coming on are like twinkling little stars. 

Around 9:00 I visit Taberna Segura.  I found this place my first night in Alicante.  This small little restaurant just opened and the owner/chef has treated me like family.  I chat with Lola a regular who comes in for a coffee before she goes to work at a private club.  I want to ask her if she is a madame, but think that would be impolite so I don't.

This is the first place during this journey where I can see myself living here.  Small city, near the sea, calm and peaceful. 

It is also the place where I've decided that I will go home after Majorca next week.  It is time.  That is where I want to be.  Home is where I belong. 

That is what this journey is about...finding where I belong.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Holding On to My Life...

I walked around Seville, Spain yesterday.  The history of this place is amazing.  The beauty of the city is breathtaking.  Of all the places I've been to in Spain, Seville has the deepest diversity.

It is incredibly hot here.  After a week in the mountains my body wasn't ready for the intensity of the sun.  By 3:00 I was feeling a bit dizzy...and really emotional.

Last week I taught English.  I was surrounded by Spanish adults in a remote mountain village.  In that isolation we bonded.  A quick family that said good-bye on Friday.  It is one of those times when you say, "We'll keep in touch."  It never happens.  That's ok, the memories will stay in heart and mind.

Here in Seville, my emotions came to the surface.  Last night I couldn't keep them inside.  It is frustrating because staying in a hostel there is no privacy.  People are everywhere.  In the room, in the garden, even in the bathroom.

I finally escaped to the roof.  No one around I let the tears come.  I've been so lost out here.  Everyday I wake up and I wonder what is wrong with me.  This trip is a chance of a life time.

Last summer was so different.  Things clicked out here.  I found my way.  I didn't want to go home.  Now I count the days until I go home.

My first summer that I'm with someone that I truly love, that I want to be my future, and I made the choice to leave and come here.  The mix of emotions that come with that are hard to explain.  There's a great sadness that I cannot seem to shake.  I carry it with me each day like a backpack.  Each city I go to I hope this sadness goes away and it never does.  It lingers like an unwelcome traveling campanion.

This summer I have realized that my life at home is much better than being out here.  At home I have someone to share with.  This realization has come with conflict because I've never been in a position where I even wanted to share.  I've been alone.  At home I am not alone, and I am a better person.

Out here I am alone again and it is almost unbearable.  I don't want to be out here alone anymore.  I want to be home where someone knows me and loves me.

I am not sure how this journey will play out.  Right now I take it day by day.  I do know that I am leaving Seville and the intense heat.  I am heading for the beach tomorrow.  Being near the water always gives me some clarity.

I see my love on Friday.  He says we will be getting to know each other again.  The anticipation is a bit overwhelming.  I am so happy that we will be together, yet I'm nervous.  Like a teenager waiting for her first date to arrive at the door. 

Funny, last summer I spent a month in Spain letting go of all the pain I was carrying around.  It happened.  I came back home ready to move forward.  This past moth I've spent each day holding on to what I have at home. 

Funny how a year can change everything.  Isn't it?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Trust A World Away

It is an interesting thing being in a relationship and taking a two month trip a world away. To say you miss the other seems terribly trite…I mean I would be worried if I didn’t miss him.

Over the last eight months I’ve been building a life with this other person. Not just a life, a future…someone to hold hands with me when I’m 90, you know?

Now, here we are living these separate lives yet trying to stay as connected as possible.

Before I left we talked about being afraid of what might happen while I was away on my trip. The unknown…you know…

Abandonment issues linger and creep their way into my thoughts randomly as I’ve been out here. Look at my history, my own father couldn’t even stand to hang around.

I know I shouldn’t go there…that’s the opponent talking…the thing that likes to fuck with a person’s happiness…OK, opponent: leave me the fuck alone already.

Conflict enters the picture when I’m having a good time. I’m bonding with others at the hostel, or just out having fun at a bar. I’m laughing, I’m living…that’s what is supposed to happen, isn’t it?

I tell him about these good times, and there’s times his body language or tone of voice changes. I suddenly feel like I’ve done something wrong…I feel very defensive.

I want him to know everything I’m experiencing out here, but is that outside of his comfort zone?

Trust needs to be handled delicately. Both he and I have past baggage where our trust in others has been obliterated and scattered with the wind.

We need to trust each other more than ever right now.

Trust that we can live these separate lives for a minute but still stay connected. Trust that we are each other’s future, that an ocean cannot possibly kill this love we feel; and if it does, then trust that the universe has other plans.

Trust can be a true friend. Trust can lead us to great discoveries about ourselves and each other. These discoveries are then shared and we grow stronger.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ah! In Spain...Finally...

It is amazing how just crossing the boarder into Spain relaxed me.  The vibe here is so different than France.  So MELLOW. I don't know if it is because the start of my journey was in France, or the people, or the language barrier...I don't know, but I didn't like it.

I cannot believe the hostel I'm staying at.  Total freaking surfer hang out. Right on the beach...no shoes...people coming and going...again..they could be my children.  They have finally left for the evening so I am able to sit here quietly watch the ocean and write.  This is the life I want...Can you hear me universe?  A place near the ocean where I can make a home, have a garden, cook, write, and love my guy forever.

I'm listening to the guys here in the common room.  The discussions on how drunk they got last night are sort of amusing.  I'm so glad that I'm no longer in that space.  Enjoying life...YES!  Eating tapas last night was almost a sexual experience.  Getting so wasted that I cannot remember my name?  I don't think so.

I did enjoy some wine and other party favors with a couple of the surfers that were hanging out in the hostel.  Kyle is from the USA, and is trying to break a record on how many bottles of cheap wine he can drink in a day...don't people do that in high school?  Diego, on the other hand, travels the world looking for the perfect wave.  He's great to look at, but who knows if the things he says are true?

The conversation was all about drinks, surf, and Diego's quest to have sex with a girl from every world culture...I think he's making a study  of it all...I just listen and think...these boys have no idea...but they sure are providing me with some amusement.

Exactly what I need....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Still Standing For The Moment...


So it is my last night in Bordeaux.  This has to my favorite city I visited in France.  Very old, very quaint.  Still haven't gotten my travel legs but I think I am getting there...well...maybe not.

I do know that Bordeaux is small enough for me.  My first night I met a man who bought me a beer and let me use his phone to call the USA and check in with my guy...very nice.  He later wanted me to go back to his flat...so much for just being neighborly...guys are guys I guess, even in France.

This is the thing...I'm just not really fitting in anywhere.  I'm just not feeling comfortable.  I am hating this...you have no idea.  What the fuck is wrong with me?  In Spain last summer it didn't take this long to get it together.

I'm sitting here right now in the stairwell of my hotel because the reception is closed at this hour and it is the only way I can get online.  I have tears running down my face because really the.only thing I want to do is go home...but I can't...No matter what I cannot let this beat me...but right now it is completely and toally kicking my ass...and I don't know how to make it stop.

My gay husband says that I am living the dream...I know he is right.  I am so thankful that I am able to travel like this...it is a dream come true.  What he doesn't know is that there's another dream I'm living a million miles away...a dream I've waited my whole life for...someone to share my life with.

The thing is I know that I need to accomplish something out here...what exactly is yet to be determined...right now I feel like I am fluttering into failure and I'm scared.

My gay husband, who has been my dearest friend for 20 years, completely "gets" this type of journey.  He has mentored me both in travel and in my writing.  Now he has other things he has to do...his own path...he doesn't have time or space for my insecurity.

Even though I understand this intellectually, my heart is hurting.  The abruptness of it all feels like a black hole.  I am not sure how to wrap my head around the fact that I am going to take the rest of this journey without him...I'm not sure this will happen, but my gut is telling me that we will be on the outskirts of each others lives for a bit.  That happens in friendships...

For now I go to Spain...my love...my place....

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hostel Blues

I am having hostel frustration.  The place I am staying at in Nice, Villa Saint Exupery, is one of the top rated hostels in the world.  I can see why, the grounds are lovely, a great bar, and delighful meals for very cheap prices.  I feel very lucky that I have one of the air conditioned rooms because many are not and the heat here is almost unbearable.

I've met some really wonderful people:  Nick my beach partner from Toronto, Andes and his family from Sydney, and Thormud a 76 year-old backpacker from Melborne. 

Since I am here for six days I am trying to make a socialogical study of the comings and goings of the backpackers in my nine bed dorm room.  Some have snuck in in the middle of the night only to be gone before daylight.  It is like they are on a secret mission.

Then there's Pierre from Quebec City...I cannot remember his real name, but he speaks with a slight French accent.  His bunk is above mine.  He has bags of food all over and has decided that our two beds are his personal clothes line for drying his laundry.  I woke up to a curtain of laundry blocking my view.  Glad I am not claustrophobic.

Others, like Chris, from NYC, sleeps all day and rises around happy hour time.  He then proceeds to drink himself into oblivion and pick up whatever unsuspecting 21 year-old he can find.  I'm wondering if this is working for him?

I really don't want to sound like this old lady complaining about, "those damn kids," because they all have a story and I find them all facinating.  I just don't think getting as drunk as humanly possible each night is how I want to spend my trip.  I'm not judging, it is just not my bag.

The door doesn't really lock in my room, and even if it did none of my roommates seem to care about locking things up.  I'm sure they think I am ultra paranoid because I lock up both backpack and suitcase, and lock the suitcase to the bedpost.

Today I came back from visiting Aux en Provence and I look down and I see a few pairs of men's underwear.  One of my roommate's I presume.  I must admit I did try and look to see if they were dirty or clean...gross I know...they were dirty.   I wanted to take a picture, but people started coming home...I'm sure they would've thought it odd.  I think it is odd that someone leaves their dirty underwear lying around a hostel floor.

I've developed this awful cough over the last couple days.  I'm thinking I am allergic to something in the air or in the room, and it is quite annoying...for both me and my roommates.  It sucks because I wake up in the middle of the night coughing like crazy and cannot seem to stop.  Matthew from Toronto gave me some cough drops which help somewhat.  I'm sure my roommates are sharing my lack of sleep because of this...sorry guys, the last thing I want to do is contribute to your sleep depervation.

Last night on the phone with my guy back home I tried to explain my frustation.  I was weepy from lack of sleep and the relentless cough.  I know he cares and wants to help, but this is something I have to figure out on my own.  Part of me having a life out here that is only mine. 

Having an assortment of roommates will be part of this trip there are no two ways about it.  It just is, and like everything else when I come to peace with it things will be easier.  Running away and laying down my credit card for a hotel room is, in my opinion, a puss way out, and not part of the life I want to experience out here.  Days are coming where I will have my own room and they will be doubly sweet....

So suck it up, Gracie, and deal with it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ok...I'm Here...In France...Sheesh...

I've been gone from home for almost a week now.  My gay husband told me that it would take me a few days to get used to being so far away.  He was right. 

I think I am in the loneliness stage.  You know that point where I am wondering if this trip was the best idea. 

My three days in Paris were filled with walking among millions of people, but the sudden feeling of being all alone in the world surged in me in such an unexpected way.  It was as if I was standing on the outside of this huge club house and I could see into the window but I couldn't find the door that would allow me inside.

I am smart enough to realize that the unbearable heat of Paris, along with the process of getting my travel legs under me didn't help.  Finally, on my last day in Paris I found this lovely place, Jardin du Luxenburg.  A quiet park where I just sat and gathered myself, and came to peace that I will be away for the next two months.

Last summer when I went to Spain. I left Virginia without a thought.  No ties.  Just a couple good friends that will always be my good friends.  This trip is different...there's someone at home...waiting.  In my wildest dreams I never thought something like that would happen. 

As much as I want to see him, to touch him, just be with him, I must wrap my head around the fact that we are going to be apart for the next few weeks.  I have to make a little life for myself where he's in my heart, but not in my day to day life.

A life out here that is mine, this is what I need to do.  Sitting here in this hostel in Nice, France I am surrounded by a ton of people.  Many of them are young enough to be my children, yet I think I've fit in.  Well, I've found a few who seem to accept me as who I am.   I think that was what I've been waiting for.  To be sitting here in the middle of this frat party hostel writing this post and thinking, "Well...here I am and I'm OK."

I ventured out to the beach today.  Villefranche was the village/beach I went to.  I met Nick, from my hostal on the tram to the bus station.  We ended up hanging at the beach all day.  Was loads of fun...was some actual intelligent conversation.  Was the first time on this trip that I actually felt my normal self.  I just sat and talked with another person about life...how lovely. 

People who don't travel on their own don't realize how nice it is to find someone to truly bond with.

Tonight in the bar I chatted up people that I've met in the last couple days, plus a couple new people.  This one Swedish gentleman, who I met my first night here, asked me why I haven't started writing my novel yet.  Good question.  I don't know why...where is that fear coming from? 

Maybe I'll figure that out here....

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Future...Here I Come!


Sometimes life changes so fast it is hard to keep up.  The school year is almost over and I am looking back wondering where it all went.  Did I accomplish anything in my classroom?

I came to this school with such hopes and one by one those hopes were either pushed aside or squashed with such force that my first reaction was to retreat into my shell like a turtle in fear of being run over by a car.

Over time I came out of my shell and found bits and pieces of time where I could take my students to new heights.  Deep down, I know it is not enough.  Yet I've agreed to stay - for the time being.  Another opportunity came my way last week, a new school that fits exactly with my philosophy.  The principal likes me but currently there's no position for me.  So I wait...not exactly something I am good at.

I know that what is supposed to happen will happen.  New school or in the same place.  I'll make it work - that much I've learned this year...OK I hope and pray I make it all work.  I do know that keeping my mouth shut and just "do" what I do works best for me.  A bit of growth I think. 

The thing is that there's so much more to my life now than school.  This is taking more of my attention each day.  My real life.  My future.  I've always tentatively shied away from the word, "future".  Now I think it is time to looked "future" in they eye and walk through without hesitation.

I'm going to be a writer...that I know.  Will there be obstacles to climb, of course.  My life has always been filled with obstacles...fine...I turn them into opportunity, but I will be a writer.  Not just a blogger.  A writer who has books in bookstore with people who buy them and everything.  That has been the dream forever and the time has come.

Leave on my trip in less than a month.  Finding it hard to believe that I made this happen.  This trip is so important and so necessary to my future.  I must admit I'm having pre-trip jitters.  Three countries, six weeks, and me on my own.  New people, places, and so much to explore...sheesh...who knew?

This summer I am leaving someone behind.  I know that I will miss him dearly.  He, too, is my future.  This has been the toughest part to wrap my head around.  He's asked me to marry him and I've said, "yes."  People who know me know this is huge.  I'm so sure though...he's the one I've been waiting for...can you hear me exhale?

There is this nagging little voice that I'm trying to ignore that tells me I will change after my trip.  Annoying as it is the voice is asking if he will still want to marry me when I return?  I wish the voice would shut up. 

The future...just walk through, Gracie.  Fuck the fear...you of all people know fear only stops progress.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Travel With A New Purpose...

Feeling a bit nostalgic I just read some of my posts from last summer's trip to Spain.   As I'm reading I'm thinking to myself how different my life is now.  I was asked last summer if my trip to Spain was my way of running away.  At that time I WAS running, but at the same time I was healing and most significantly I was growing....I wonder if the person who asked me about running away has grown?

I've been planning my next adventure which begins in two months.  My journey will take me to France, back to Spain, and to Portugal.  Am I running again?  Of course, but this time I'm running TO something...discovery, exploration, opportunity, and life.

One of my best friends, and gay husband, sent me a box of business cards this week.  Under my name it says, "Teacher/Writer/Explorer," and the quote at the top appropriately states, "Not all those who wander are lost."  Amazing what happens in a year's time, isn't it?

Last summer I left Virgina feeling lost and a bit broken.  This summer I will leave knowing that this is the way my life SHOULD be.  I'm supposed to explore and I'm supposed to write.  As far as being broken...well, all is put back together and stronger than ever.

I wrote last summer that I am a survivor...that I've always achieved the goals I set.  This is true...this last year I've made tremendous strides not only as a teacher, but as a writer, and as a woman.  What is truly amazing is that the reality is so much sweeter than I originally visualized.

Sometimes I have to stop and wonder if all this is really happening.  Am I about to travel Europe for six weeks on my own?  Am I a homeowner?  Am I really a paid writer?  Am I at peace at my school?  Am I in love for real this time?

Yep...it is REALLY happening...thanks...I'm enjoying each and every delicious moment...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Discovering Love Over Forty...

Easter Sunday...millions of people taking the once a year pilgrimage to their local church. My mother will hate this, but I don't really need a large building to give thanks to my higher power. However, like those millions I'm sitting here thanking God, Jesus, Allah, Mother Earth, and the Buddha for how my life has evolved in the last year.

Now I don't want this post to be some sick, love-struck rambling of a 45 year-old woman just discovering who she is...but I must say this is exactly how I feel now; right down to that effervescent glow one gets after having days of eye-popping, toe-curling sex.

Too much information? Know what? I really don't care. This feeling is just too SPECTACULAR and for you ladies who are in your 40's and going through those lovely pre-menopause changes, this is the time to truly discover who you are as a woman.

I don't mean just the sex thing. Sex is wonderfully intoxicating in your 40's, but self-discovery takes a soul to an whole other level.

I mean discovering who you are in all aspects of life. Do you ever ask yourself where your place is in this world? Or that fear evoking question, what exactly have I done in life that means something? Come on, you know exactly what I am talking about.

In the last year I've asked myself those same questions...and I am still striving to answer them. What has changed is that the journey to find the answers has become so delicious, so entertaining, so fearless...I'm just giddy with excitement.

I have learned one thing: I am not just one woman. I am many women all wrapped up into this 45 year-old body. I'm a teacher, I'm a friend, I'm a paid writer, I'm a traveler, I'm a lover. Oh God, I'm hearing Helen Reddy's song, "I am Woman Hear Me Roar" in my head...Not exactly where I wanted my brain to go, but do you get the picture I'm trying to paint here?

I wonder if the majority of women are this lucky - that they can truly find themselves as they journey through their 40's? I really hope so. Unfortunately, I think there are too many women who are just too scared to step outside of their safe little two car garage box...sadly, I think I am in the minority. Will the others learn before it is too late?

The thing is, I haven't done anything special. My life isn't something that Oprah would televise or anything like that...too boring for her. What I have done is to step outside of myself, to risk, and to have an unbelievable amount of faith that the universe would bring me exactly what I want.

What I want - and that is? You may or may not be thinking. Well, for one I want to be more than just a school teacher. I find nothing more pathetic that a middle aged, single school teacher who lives for her students. I want to write and actually be published and paid. I want to travel the world. Finally, I want what so many people crave...unconditional love from someone.

Today, as I said before, I'm feeling like a love-struck school girl. This so hard for me to grasp, but the universe has seen fit to send me this person who is on so many levels what I've been looking for my entire life.

I'm desperately to keep myself in the moment. For one, I know if I get too far ahead of myself, I'll fuck this up, but the MOMENT is so spine tingling that I feel the need to soak every last drop of love that is coming from this man. And believe me, in this case, "MAN" is exactly what this person is...more MAN than anyone I've ever met.

It is not just what he gives or what he does, it is WHO he is. How he LOOKS at me. How he TOUCHES me. Just the look he gives, or the brush of his hand on mine says so much...that I'm the ONE he wants to be with mind, body, and soul...EEK!

That's the thing, the part that I admit I'm having a bit of trouble wrapping my head around; I'm the one he WANTS to be WITH...never in my wildest dreams...Not that I don't deserve it, but really, look at my track record.

I guess one could say...it is about freakin' time...and ladies, hear me now, find this for yourself...somewhere...it is TOO GOOD to let time pass and not experience something like this. Believe me, it will be a sad day if you let time pass and don't ever experience this kind of love.

I'm discovering that women really become WHO they are in their 40's. Some may say that I've missed out because I've remained single and childless. Whatever...I've missed nothing. For those of you who have gone the married/children route and are thinking to yourself, "What about ME?" It is time...take what you need, live, discover...you deserve it...we all deserve it...

Damn, Helen Reddy is singing in my head again...maybe I should sing along...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Summer Travel Plans...EEK!

Spring means three things to me...the daffodils and cherry blossoms begin to bloom, school will be out in less than three months, and I must plan for my summer travels.

With flowers blooming comes warm weather...such a relief especially after this winter of 55 inches of snow. The school year coming to an end - bitter because I've gotten attached to my students - sweet because I am so ready to send them on their way. Planning for my summer trip...well...exciting and a bit nerve wrecking.

This weekend is the start of spring break and today I've had quite a lot of quiet time to read and plan my trip. My plane ticket is bought. I arrive in Paris on June 29 and I leave Madrid August 19. There are 50 days in the middle for me to explore and discover yet another part of myself.

As I've researched today I've realized one thing: I cannot wait to GO!

This trip is so different from last summer's trip to Spain. Last summer the overwhelming need to be away from here - away from HIM was the main objective. This year it is about discovering ME, living in a way I've never lived...and WRITING like I've never written before.

So far I will be in Paris for three days and Nice for five days. In Nice I will be able to take day trips to the San Tropez, Monoco and other nifty places. From there...not sure...I had thought I would spend the bulk of my time in southern Spain...but I've been reading about Portugal and am leaning to spend more time there...who freaking knew that would happen?

This is the amazing thing...my ideas for my trip keep changing...who knows where I will go or what I will do....this makes me giddy with excitement...the unknown...this will make my mother very crazy...she worries...you know how moms can be.

I will be traveling mostly by train. Eurail has great Passes...and I'm so there...one price...train to many places...what more could a girl want?

In three months I will be in France...it is unbelievable. Saying that I am blessed sounds so...predictable. This is exactly how I feel - totally and completely BLESSED! Some may think that saying "Thanks Universe" is trite...but I am thinking that this is the appropriate response - so THANKS UNIVERSE!

Friday, March 5, 2010

No Fear...Really!

Finally...over 50 degrees this weekend. When you live on the East Coast you live for these weekends. I plan on doing some research on an article I'm going to write for Tripwolf, a travel website that has shown interest in my writing.

Life seems to be moving very fast these days. I'm getting writing assignments, which is good..really good, in fact. It looks like my summer of travel will be filled with writing jobs...perfectly amazing if you ask me.

Who knew? That is what I keep asking myself. The last four years have been such a challenge...so much change...so much heartbreak...and now great things are happening...and for the first time in my life I am not afraid...I'm actually embracing all these blessings without hesitation.

No fear...how refreshing...how different for me. I've always had this facade...the brave girl who can handle almost anything. When on the inside I am a deer in headlights hoping that the floor won't fall out from under me.

Writing...I know, it is so unbelievably cool that there are publications that like what I write.

Travel...I will travel Europe again this summer...the entire eight weeks...no matter what...the discovery that will happen makes me giggle with excitement.

Love...he loves me...he gave me a ring...not THAT type of ring...but a ring...and I wear it knowing that this person is who I want in my life...That something like that would happen just blows my mind. Even more I haven't fucked it up...OK, Gracie, don't go there.

Work...work is work...I've let go. I have no control. My life away from work is more important. I'm focusing on those at school who provide me with conversations that stimulate me instructionally and intellectually. The rest of them...no relevance in the big picture.

Work...again...I'm presenting at the Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics (VCTM). This is a state conference where I will talk about what I do with math in my classroom...who fucking knew that would ever happen...but it is...I'm not questioning it...just enjoying the journey...

Let it all happen...no fear...I like that...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow Days....

Snow...it has been snowing for what seems like weeks now. I've seen more snow than I've ever seen in my life. At first it was exciting, a winter wonderland right out my front door. While cabin fever hasn't completely over-taken my mind...I sure could use some 70 degree days.

We've been out of school for a week now. Not that I mind...I'm not really one of those teachers who lives her life for her students. What I do miss is the human contact.

Look, I haven't been alone. My new friend has spent these
wintery days and nights here with me at my place. As great as that has been, sometimes a girl needs other people to talk to.

There's so much that has been racing through my brain as I watch the snow fall. Summer vacation will be here before I know it. My summer travels are coming together...well the finances I'm going to need to spend two months roaming through Europe are coming together. With that writing jobs are coming my way...so my travels will be filled with some work.

Other thoughts, like how this summer is going to change me...It is bound to happen...last summer in Spain changed me. Will my new friend like me then...more importantly will I still like him? That's the thing; I don't have any hesitation about leaving him here for two months while I go discover the world...It is like THAT life doesn't include him what so ever...and I'm ok with that.

The past has made a brief visit during this latest snow storm. It makes me curious...why now? I'm moving forward. Is this the universe's way of keeping me in the present? Keeping me focused on what is in front of me right now? The past can fuck me up...take me backwards...and there's entirely too much in front of me...so what ever you do, don't turn around, Gracie.

Yep...some warm weather would be pretty awesome right now....

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Euphoria.....

Feeling strangely euphoric lately. I'm trying not to let it frighten me too much. Old baggage....you know, things are going great, but there's that little voice creeping in saying, "Don't get too used to this, Gracie..."

OK...fuck that voice! As my best friend (the wife) would say this is just the "opponent" trying to mess with my chi.

I just made my very first house payment. I must tell you it was so satisfying to send that check to my lender knowing that my money is going towards an investment in my pocket and not someone else's.

Most people don't get this, but my purchasing this home is such a big step for me...such a grown-up commitment that for so long seemed untouchable for someone like me. I've accomplished many things in my life, but being financially stable enough to buy a home as always eluded me...and to be honest, I just figured that I would just be a renter until I died. Funny how things turn out, isn't it?

I've finally been feeling at home here in Virginia...it only took four years. The house has helped. It has given me a home base. Somewhere to come back to from my travels.

My travels...the next goal to accomplish. Two months this summer...I see it...I know it is going to happen. The universe is bringing things to me that will make this trip more than just a vacation. Like Spain last summer, this summer's trip will change my life in profoundly positive ways.

Positive change...how lovely...how refreshing...how spooky...old baggage speaking to me again. I'm trusting myself and with that comes the ability to trust someone else...holy shit, how did that happen?

He says we "fit"...where have I heard that before? He says he loves me. He talks about a future that includes me....he wants me to travel, discover the world, and write...he says he wants to take care of me...part of me wants to pinch him to see if he is real or just someone I've dreamed up in my distorted imagination.

He has no idea how blissful his words are to my ears...and how scary...how I'm desperately trying to relax and enjoy each and every moment of this experience...and how thinking too much about the future could fuck everything up....

...and the last thing in the world I want is to mess this up...because he is right...we fit...interesting how significant that word has become...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Life is So Much More Than a Job....

In a teacher's life the end of the second quarter is a turning point in the school year. Half the year is over. You are preparing for those ALL IMPORTANT standardized tests. The pressure is on...I live this...yet right now I'm totally ambivalent about it.

Don't get me wrong, I want my students to be successful. But it seems the universe has place me on a 5th grade team of teachers who are some of the most immature people I've ever encountered.

I sit in meetings and these women have no ideas of their own. Yet they have the nerve to say things like, "Can you create lessons for me." Are fucking serious? Why would I create lesson plans for you? What do I get out of it? It isn't like we are actually TRADING ideas.

What does the universe want me to learn from this? It will not serve me to get angry and tell these women to, "fuck off, do your own work." So what is the deal?

There is the large part of me that has literally stepped aside. I'm focusing on my life outside of the classroom...that seems to be where the action is...yes people, there's some action.

I've written two articles in the last two weeks that have been published...and I've been paid for them. This alone is the direction I want my live to head in...a published writer...a dream I've had for a million years.

I mentioned my new friend. He has told me that he loves me. At first that was a bit unsettling. Usually I'm the one who says the "L" word. Never has a man shared such thoughts without hesitation or regret. I'm still trying to get used to that.

I'm making preparations to travel this summer. Two months away, exploring, living a live of a nomad...complete heaven!

So...focus on life outside of school. Do my job, of course, and do it well! I think the universe wants me to keep my eye on the prize...that a woman can live her dream, be loved for who she is, and the rest is just the vehicle to take her on the journey.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Year...New Chapter...Moving On...

So here we are folks, 2010...the end of the year flew past me with such speed I've just now sat down to reflect in writing. As always millions of thoughts have been floating around my brain...

Well...I did it...I found a new home...and closed in December...yes...can you believe it I am a homeowner. It only took nine different offers...guess the ninth time is the charm. I moved in the week of Christmas, and cannot even begin to describe how it feels to open the door each day to my very OWN home...it is like bliss times 100.

The ins and outs of buying a home will come at another posting as I'm sure there are many first time buyers out there going through many of the same obstacles/opportunities that I have experienced....

As this new year...oh gosh...new decade is starting I smile to myself because last year at this time I was...well you all know...heading down a dark, heartbreaking hole. I say, smile, because I must give a bit of thanks to HIM. Had he not so thoughtfully pulled the rug out from under my world I would not be here today saying that the universe has brought me a new friend... without HIS antics I would've never been READY for this new person.

Ready...what does that mean? I do know that the universe brings us what we desire when the time is right. So is the time right for a new friend? I think it is. I must tell you though, I almost pushed my new friend away before we even got started.

You may ask why would I push someone away? Honestly, I was doing fine on my own. Getting my world together...I was content...the last thing I wanted was a relationship. Fuck, I sound like HIM don't I? Add to that, fear and lack of trust in myself and you have a woman who would push away Prince Charming riding up on a white horse.

Thankfully he's been patient with me...and I've realized that there is a reason my new friend has come to my world at this time. I haven't thought too much about what the REASONS are because I'm LIVING each moment as they come...and he too is in each moment with me...fully, completely and without hesitation...who knew that a person like that existed?

Moving on...that's the mantra for 2010. New home...new friend...new life...forward to my next adventure...summer of travel...please, you didn't think I would let that go? Not on your life...after last summer in Spain...I gotta head down that road again...

Good Stuff...Nice....